The New York Times ripped outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Saturday as a cheerleader for President Donald Trump’s “boneheaded” policy of “energy dominance.” The editorial noted that Zinke is leaving his job under the shadow of an” impressive number” — 15 — “ethics investigations.”
Zinke “had a Western swagger to him that some found appealing, but on matters of public relations he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” the editorial declared.
“On his first day in office, Mr. Zinke rode a horse to work, in plain imitation of Teddy Roosevelt. As president, Mr. Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of American wilderness, including 18 national monuments. Ten months into his tenure as Interior Secretary, Mr. Zinke recommended the withdrawal of some two million acres from two national monuments in Utah established by Mr. Obama and Bill Clinton, the largest shrinkage of public land protection in history.”
Zinke has often boasted: “No one loves public land as much as I do.” But just this month his department detailed the Trump administration’s latest anti-environment scheme to open 9 million acres to drilling and mining by stripping protections for the ground-nesting sage grouse. It would open more land to drilling than any other action by the administration to date, the Times reported. “No one loves the sage grouse more than I do,” Zinke said last year.
Environmentalists are already steeling to battle Zinke’s No. 2, Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who is expected to be named acting secretary when Zinke leaves.
The Western Values Project, which advocates to preserve public lands, just launched a website detailing Bernhardt’s various conflicts of interest over his years working as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.
“The musical chairs that have become the hallmark of this administration mean that at least in the interim Trump is replacing one scandal-plagued secretary with the ultimate swamp creature and ex-lobbyist David Bernhardt,” Western Values Project executive director Chris Saeger said in a statement. “The bottom line is that Bernhardt is too conflicted to even be acting secretary.”